Sunday, May 20
Noon Registration
1 – 2pm
Harbor Channel
11th Street Beach, Downtown Morehead City

Additional questions, comments, or concerns?

Contact the CMAST Youth Programs Director
Leslie Smith

By CMAST Youth Programs

The Great Crystal Coast Cardboard Boat Race is the first-ever fundraising event to benefit educational youth programs through North Carolina State University’s Science House at the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST). The Science House at CMAST hosts a variety of programs for students interested in marine and environmental science, marine technologies and engineering, boating skills and maritime heritage, as well as science communication. Some of the programs CMAST hosts include the Sea Wolf 4-H Club, Sea Scout Ship 1810, the North Carolina Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, and the MATE ROV Competition.

Being a part of the Great Crystal Coast Cardboard Boat Race can be a great Team Building activity. Participants get to design, name, build and sail their own boat. On Race Day, friends and family can come cheer them on. There are a number of benefits:

  • Facilitates better communication
  • Promotes creativity
  • Deepens relationships
  • Increases morale
  • Improves problem-solving skills
  • Celebrates giving


Boats are made entirely of cardboard and powered by two paddlers. They will race around the Harbor Channel in scenic downtown Morehead City. Boats compete in individual heats for honor, glory and some cool trophies.

As a part of our fleet you will:

  • Have a boatload of fun
  • Compete in an amazing event


Depending on the number of entries, boats will randomly draw a heat. The winner of each heat will move on to the final race.

A minimum donation is required in order to submit a boat into the race. The Great Crystal Coast Cardboard Boat Race will have two divisions, which determine the donation amount:

  • Youth Division ($25/boat)
  • Adult Division ($50/boat)

Donations can be submitted by a check or money order made out to Downtown Morehead City, Inc. Donations can be made prior or on the day of the event.

Captains and Crews who wish to participate in the Great Crystal Coast Cardboard Boat Race make a commitment to the following:

  • Construct a boat out of cardboard and duct tape.
  • All boats are human powered (oars and paddles are acceptable as propulsion tools; you provide the oars/paddles; minimum of 2 people)
  • Participate in the entire event, which includes:
    • Bring completed boat to the event on Sunday, May 20 by 12 p.m.
    • Attend the race on Sunday by checking in by 12 p.m. at the latest.
    • Stay for brief awards ceremony after the race (approx. 2 p.m.)
    • Dispose of or remove boat from property after the race


First Place trophies will be awarded in both the Youth and Adult Divisions. A cardboard boat must complete length of the course to qualify as a “finisher.” Swimming crewmembers pushing a boat (or some portion of it) through the course is not considered “racing.” The boat (or some portion of it) must be maneuvered and propelled by at least one paddling crewmember.

Special Trophies will be awarded for the following:

  • Gilligan Award – Awarded to the boat most likely to leave you stranded on an island.
  • Designer Boat Award – Awarded to the boat with the best decorations or theme.


  • The ENTIRE boat must be built of cardboard, duct tape, and one-part polyurethane.
  • Any part of your boat that touches the water must be cardboard. This includes the hull, decking, keel, cowling, superstructure, oarlocks, seating and rudder. (Nuts, bolts, washers and staples are NOT allowed in hull construction. The cardboard may be as thick as you want, but may not be glued or attached to wood, plastic, fiberglass, etc.)
  • Only exceptions are the paddles and decorations (kayaking and canoeing paddles and oars can be used)
  • NO wrapping in duct tape, plastic or fiberglass or similar product
  • Duct tape may be used to reinforce seams
  • Duct tape, masking tape, or adhesives such as ‘liquid nails’ CAN be used to connect cardboard to cardboard and CAN be used to reinforce all seams and stress points. It CANNOT be used to waterproof boats.
  • Waterproof the boat with Varnish, Paint or Polyurethane (one-part, paint-like substance). (If you don’t want your boat to sink, waterproof the entire boat with any paintable, one-part substance like Varnish or Polyurethane inside and out.)


Permissible Materials

  • Corrugated Cardboard
    • Appliance or grocery stores
  • Cardboard “blocks”
    • Furniture stores
  • Cardboard Tubes
    • Carpet/linoleum stores
  • Fastening material
    • Duct or masking tape
    • Liquid nails adhesive
  • Water based paint


Materials NOT Allowed

  • Wood, Styrofoam
  • Plastic sheathing
  • Fiberglass
  • Sona-Tubes, waxed or treated cardboard
  • Silicon, Wax, Tar
  • Caulking compounds or two-part/mixed adhesives
  • Metal
  • Staples, clamps, screws



  • Decorations are encouraged -as long as they don’t affect structural strength or buoyancy
  • Boats CANNOT tow anything behind them for the safety of other boats.
  • The crew compartment CANNOT be enclosed so as to interfere with escape
  • Boats should weigh less than 200 lbs – This rule is for us. (Please keep your boat under 200 lbs. If you need help getting out of the channel, we need the odds stacked in our favor.)
  • Boats should be less than 6 feet wide – Here more is not better
  • Care should be taken that construction does not include pointed objects and sharp edges that could injure anyone
  • Surfboard style designs are NOT allowed. Consider “staying dry” part of the challenge.
  • Raft style designs ARE allowed. (The distinguishing feature of a raft design as opposed to a surfboard style is the use of cardboard “logs” and other such accouterments, as one would expect to find in/on a raft. Think Huck Finn.)
  • The boat’s passenger area must not be permanently enclosed above the occupant’ shoulders. Each person must be visible while the boat is in the water.

Boat decorations and crew costumes are encouraged – use your imagination; you will be awarded for your creativity!


  • Every crewmember must wear a PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICE (PFD) & proper footwear. If you cannot provide your own PFD, let us know prior to the event so we can provide one for you.
  • All crewmembers MUST sign a Liability and Media Release Form on race day. Boats will not be allowed to race without a signed form from each race participant
  • Minimum of TWO crewmembers
  • All boats are human powered (oars and paddles you provide are acceptable as propulsion tools
  • To qualify as a finisher in any heat, you must be IN your boat, not towing it in your teeth or between your legs.
  • Heats will consist of no more than 4 boats at a time. Fastest finisher in each heat will compete for the championship.
  • Boats and team members may not intentionally interfere with any other team or boat. (Failure to comply with this will mean an immediate disqualification and will not be allowed to complete the race)


RACE DAY – Please check in (entire crew) at the registration table on race day no later than 12:00 p.m. After unloading, please move your vehicle to the parking lot. After the safety inspection is complete, boats will race other boats from the shore of the Harbor Channel and back. After the race, the boat crews must remove all cardboard, decorations and other materials from the water and the grounds. Volunteers will be on hand to help. You can take your boat home with you or dispose of it, but you MUST take your boat with you.

Register your team at this link:

Good luck and see you on race day!